Ganzfeld Bath Time

Since I can't go out anywhere, I have found myself sitting by my lonesome on Friday nights scrolling the web. I was scrolling Wikipedia when I came across and article discussing false perceptions. These false perceptions are the result of the human brain 'coming up with stuff' that really is not there. This manifests as hallucinations. Sometimes this can happen when someone is really tired or stressed. At other times, hallucinations can arise when an abnormal preceptory stimulus is applied to one's senses. In the case of a Ganzfeld experiment, named after an German word for 'complete field', hallucinations can arise when a uniform stimulus is applied to any individual sense or all senses at once. This uniform stimulus can be white noise played over headphones, looking at a field of evenly intense light, or laying in a bath of warm water. In each case, hearing, sight, and feeling are equally stimulated. As time goes on, the body 'gets used to' this stimulus. And if time continues on, the brain no longer 'sees' new stimulus to react towards. 

After reading this Wikipedia article, I did not expect the effect to be that strong and I wanted to try it out for myself. I covered my eyes with a cloth and set up a red LED lamp to shine on my face. I wore my over-ear headphones and listened to white noise at a comfortable volume. After about 20 minutes of laying in the warm tub, I precepted slight rumbling sounds within the white noise which I'm sure weren't really there. I would say it was sort of like meditation or daydreaming. Generally underwhelming but seems to be sort of a real thing? The whole ESP thing with respect to Ganzfeld experiments is a load of baloney though. That's pseudoscience. It is popular for pseudoscience folks to engage with some element of real science to peddle their stick. Maybe COVID will make pseudoscience more lucrative? If it hasn't already :/ 

Shop Homes, Cottage Living, or maybe Post-Commerce Residential

I am trying to predict a trend in how America's commercial real estate will end up being used in the mid 21st century. As it stands now, the United States has way too much commercial real estate. A lot of malls are empty and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the plague, malls and commercial real estate in general was having a hard time. Consumers in the USA are flocking to Amazon and e-commerce at large in droves. In a few years, Main Street USA will look even more different than it does now; after the great recession. Despite these changes, the large brick buildings and steel garages will still be standing even without shopping floors to occupy them. The same bond market collapse that we saw in 2008 connected to residential units in the sun belt will happen similarly to commercial units across the country. There is a silver lining to this economic issue. These buildings can be repurposed. As housing prices increase across the country (rent or buy), an additional source of housing supply can be added in the form of repurposed commercial units turned into residential units. Sometimes this is easier purposed than actually acted on, as zoning is a thing. However, many cities with strict zoning laws also suffer from housing issues. I could imagine some progressive movements in the US which strive to increase housing equity might support changes in zoning policy and land usage legislation which encourage commercial land owners which are holding unused properties to repurpose them for housing. 

Some problems I could anticipate relate to the building code differences. In residential units, the number of bathrooms and the amount of natural lighting needed is much higher than that of commercial units. This would involve intensive work to change and (often) retrofit existing utilities and structures to meet residential building codes.

What will these old stores turned condos be called? I don't know. Maybe shop homes because they were once stores. Or maybe something fancy like post-commerce residential. Let's wait and find out.

First Snow in Somerville

 Out my window this morning, the sun began to beam down on the thin inch of snow which held a layer over most things. As it did, the snow melted and came down in slushy chunks on the lawns and roofs below. It will be a somewhat wet Halloween but that's the smallest reason why one might call this Halloween odd. This Halloween is odd because of COVID. In a different universe, I might be giving out candy to kids in the neighborhood and wearing some sort of get-up. Instead, such action is not only frowned upon but enforced against by statute. The pandemic has certainly shifted my mindset towards all sorts of activities. The new abnormal has not however stopped me from thinking about the future and decisions in my life. I have been thinking a bit about where I'll be living in 8 months as well as about what sort of professional development I want to focus on. In only a few weeks, I'll hopefully see my family so that might help me think these things over.

41 Million Used to 18 Million New

Best selling car of all time? Toyota Corolla

Close-ish second? The Ford F-series truck (which is sorta false because the F-series is really a bunch of different engines they put in the different body styles which are mostly similar, it's complicated)

A lot of Americans use a motor vehicle daily to get wherever they need to go. I am fortunate to be currently borrowing my mom's Jeep to get to work and back. As of late, I have been looking at purchasing a vehicle of my own. In my search, I am considering vehicles that are not a truck nor a sedan. I am looking at crossovers and SUVs. This is a type of car that a majority of Americans are buying in the 2010s. Around 70% of new car sales in the US these days are trucks or SUVs. Most cars sold however are used cars, not new. In fact, in the last few years the used car volume is about double that of new cars and represents a market worth about 120 billion USD annually. In 2018, 41 million used cars were sold compared to 18 million new cars. 

The 2008 global financial crisis had a severe impact on the US auto industry in terms of new vehicle sales. In 2008, the industry suffered an 18% decline in new car retail sales, followed by a 21% decline in 2009. This changed a lot about the auto industry in the US. Although the primary cause of the 2008 recession was issues in the financial industry, it had spillover effects across the economy.

Generally, most people buy a used car because they either do not want to spend the higher amount for a new car OR they simply cannot afford a new car. Additionally, some folks would like to use a vehicle until it has internally broken down to a point where buying new is the only option because this way of using a vehicle is both more environmentally friendly and more frugal. Most cars built today, treated with some compassion can drive for between 250,000 and 300,000 miles before a major component, such as the engine block or transmission, suffers from an issue which is so immensely costly to outright replace that another used car or buying new would be a better option.

Today amid the novel COVID-19 pandemic, used cars are flying off the shelf parking lot. Many buyers are urban dwellers who have suddenly changed jobs in a despite need to make money. These new jobs which have come and gone during the pandemic induced economic shifts can often mean the new employee has to commute in a new fashion. And if this commuter does not want to take public transit, or if public transit is not available for this new job, only one option remains typically; a used car.

So how much have used cars jumped up in sales? Some places are at over 200% sales from last year alone. I walked by a used car lot in Somerville, MA, and found that the proprietor had recently purchased over $100,000 in new inventory (~ 20 cars at an average $5000). He shared this fact with me proudly. In a bad year, such as after the great recession, it may have taken him a full year to sell that inventory and make between $50,000 and $100,000 in profit. However, now they expect to sell these ~20 cars within the next few months and purchase a lot of fresh used cars soon after that. Where do these used cars come from? Well, obviously they come from new cars that were once owned. The original purchasers of new cars will typically sell them to a dealer in a trade, sell them to a used car dealer, or sell by themselves. The third option is usually the best moneymaker for the original owner but can involve a lot of time and effort so they cut their losses in time and energy and work with a dealer or used car salesperson.

By the time I finally figure out what sort of used car I would like to purchase, maybe cars will be obsolete? I feel like I'm the type of person to research this whole deal to oblivion so perhaps I'll cut my losses when the pandemic seller's market calms down and get a decent crossover vehicle. Who knows? Well you will if you keep reading this blog by then.

until then...   

Reading other Blogs

Welcome to my blog, now leave and go read some other blogs. I should get back into posting here more. And part of why I say that is from reading another post, on another blog.

"There’s a story about an art teacher that split their class in half. They told one half of the students that they’d be graded based on a single piece of work, and the other half that they would be graded on the quantity of work produced.

The half that was being graded on quantity ended up producing higher quality pieces.

By iterating and learning from their mistakes they actually ended up producing better work than the students that only had to produce one piece.

Quantity leads to quality." - Chris Mytton

This has me thinking now about what I am afraid to learn more about, because failure is a risk. Instead, I need to cherish the mindset that failure is necessary sometimes for success. 

Electrical Switches; BJTs, MOSFETs, and Relays

MOSFET usually come in a TO220 package.

Relays are often sold as plastic potted boxes with leads extending from one side.

BJTs often come in a TO92 package but can sometimes be packaged as TO220

On circuit breakers, light switches, and kitchen appliances, opening or closing an electrical contact is a mechanical action bringing together pieces using an applied force to bring together two conducting pieces of material. In electronics these days, opening or closing an electrical contact is often accomplished with transistors or relays. 

For transistors, the bipolar junction transistor (BJT) or metal oxide field transistor (MOSFET) are popular options. In years past, uni-junction transistors were used for switching applications but have now become less popular. Transistors pop up mostly in small electronics while relays are most often used for larger electrical loads with current draws beyond a few mA.

When designing a device that incorporates electrical switches, it is important to understand the application in order to pick the best device to engage your circuit. In the teeny tiny operations of a microchip, billions of microscopic BJT transistors are etched on a silicon wafer. Whereas, a much larger BJT (on the scale of inches across) might be used to engage the power sent to an induction cooker. Both these applications rely on the BJT concept although the BJT designed for the purpose is wildly different. Similar stories can be told for MOSFETs and relays that are sized for the application.

Jigsaws, Woodchucks, and O-rings

Although East Campus did not have a Resident Exploration (REX) week this year, I managed to find myself with some work that involves cutting wood. No roller coasters or rides of that sort. This woodwork involved some jig saw and miter saw work. I have been thinking about getting back into my own projects a bit more.

Look closely and see a lil woodchuck

Learned how to refit a o-ring on some glassware since this one wore out.


Ganzfeld Bath Time

Since I can't go out anywhere, I have found myself sitting by my lonesome on Friday nights scrolling the web. I was scrolling Wikipedia ...